A Short Analysis of John Milton’s ‘Methought I Saw My Late Espoused Saint’

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University) ‘Methought I Saw My Late Espousèd Saint’, sometimes known as ‘On His Deceased Wife’, is one of John Milton’s best-known sonnets. It’s a moving account of grief in the face of the loss of a loved one, and Milton – better known for his religious epic poem Paradise Lost … Read more

10 of the Best John Milton Poems Everyone Should Read

John Milton (1608-74) is one of the most important poets of the seventeenth century – indeed, one of the most important and influential poets in all of English literature. He’s rightly celebrated for writing the definitive English epic in his long narrative poem Paradise Lost, but John Milton wrote a great deal more besides. Below, we pick, and introduce, ten of Milton’s greatest poems.

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‘On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity’: A Poem by John Milton

Written in December 1629 when John Milton (1608-74) was still in his early twenties, ‘On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity’ is about – well, the title says it all, really: the Nativity, or birth of Jesus Christ. As Christmas approaches, this long religious poem is the perfect way to get yourself into the festive mood.

On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity

This is the month, and this the happy morn,
      Wherein the Son of Heav’n’s eternal King,
Of wedded Maid, and Virgin Mother born,
      Our great redemption from above did bring;
      For so the holy sages once did sing,
            That he our deadly forfeit should release,
            And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.

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Five Fascinating Facts about John Milton

The interesting life of John Milton

1. As a teenager, John Milton began writing an epic poem in Latin about the Gunpowder Plot. John Milton (1608-74) wanted to write an epic poem from an early age. He left his first attempt, in quintum novembris (‘Remember, remember…’), unfinished, but this early work shows how much the idea of Paradise Lost had gestated over a period of some forty years. It is Satan – the villain (antihero?) of Paradise Lost – who suggests the idea of the Gunpowder Plot to the Pope, who then enlists the help of Robert Catesby, Guy Fawkes, and the others. Later on, in his early thirties, Milton announced his plan to write a great Arthurian epic in English – like Spenser’s The Faerie Queene but with more classical control over the subject and narrative – but he never got around to writing the poem.

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November 23 in Literary History: John Milton Publishes Areopagitica

The most significant events in the history of books on the 23rd of November

534 BC: Thespis of Icaria – from whom we get the word ‘thespian’ – becomes the first recorded actor to portray a character on the stage. According to legend, Thespis was the first person to appear on stage and perform a role, rather than speak as himself, which had been the norm until then (where storytellers would perform as themselves, rather than in character). The ’23 November’ date is more traditional than factual, of course…

1644: John Milton publishes one of the most famous – and eloquent – defences of free expression ever written, the Areopagitica. A polemical tract in prose, published during the English Civil War, Areopagitica is an attack on censorship and an argument in favour of the freedom of the press – as relevant now as it has ever been.

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